Day Trippin'

Darlington Motorspeedway


If you have never been to a Nascar race, Darlington would be a great indoctrination. The track is old school, known as the “Track to Tough to Tame” or “The Lady in Black”. The track is located just west of Florence SC in the city of Darlington. Surviving the modernization of racing with bigger crowd and more attention, the track has remained relatively the same. When it was built in 1958 by Harold Brasington, the track was constructed in an egg shape to save the minnow pond located in what was turn 2. This makes the track very difficult to drive because setting up the cars for different style turn radiuses is a challenge for the crews and drivers. In 1997 front stretch was flipped to back and the pond is now off turn four. When I first attended races, the grandstands were covered, and the noise was deafening with the cars just feet from the stands. You would park in people’s yard as they would sell spaces. This tradition still continues today however the track has ample parking.

Darlington had traditional had two races per year, one around Mothers Day and one on Labor Day Weekend. The first race was the Southern 500 held in 1950. That race was won by Johnny Mantz, he took home $25,000. Nascar reduced this to one race in 2005 but returned to the two race structure as racing resumed after the pandemic. A race weekend has numerous activities associated with it such as the hauler parade through downtown, support races, fan zones to meet and greet drivers and of course the chance to purchase souvenirs. The raceway has a museum near the ticket office with cars and exhibits dating back to the early days of Stock Car Racing. The museum is open even when there are no races going on.

If you have never been to a race here are a few tips, sit up high for the best view of the track, be prepared to walk and climb as the facility is large. Be patient, concession lines can be long and purchase multiple drinks to stay hydrated. Keep in mind that fans can be passionate, and language can be colorful. If you really want to feel like being a part of the action, purchase a pit pass and rent a scanner to listen to the drivers. Arrive early to have time to enjoy the event, and be prepared to wait for a while when leaving the track. Most roads leaving Darlington are 2 lanes however the State Troopers and the local law enforcement do a great job on keeping the traffic moving.

Darlington is a great track to go to as a first race for fans. It’s small enough that you won’t be overwhelmed, but the tradition that is associated with the track will make you appreciate the impact the track has had on racing history and South Carolina in general.